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Top Ten with a Twist: Second-half predictions

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Denver poised to go to the NFL title game. (USATSI)
Denver is poised to go to the NFL title game. (USATSI)

We've spent much of our week recapping the first half of the year, giving out our midseason team-by-team awards and thinking about what the next nine weeks of the regular season will bring.

And just like last year and the year before, it's now time to make some predictions. Predictions that almost certainly will come true (just disregard my weekly predictions thus far this season).

(One note: looking over those predictions from past seasons, I was pleasantly surprised that some of my theories actually came true. Nobody would have been more shocked than me that anything I wrote was even remotely correct.)

So, mark all of my following words on your calendar or gambling slip. Because when it comes to second-half season predictions, I'm, more often than not, 100 percent correct (though it depends sometimes on how you choose to define the word correct).

10. HGH testing won't be implemented this year: I was right about this prediction in 2011. I was right about it in 2012. I'll be right about it this year. And I'll probably be right about it next year. At some point, HGH testing will be approved. But it won't be any time soon.

9. The Jaguars won't win a game: When the subject of Jacksonville going 0-16 has arisen on various talk shows this season, it seems that most analysts believe the Jaguars will win at least one contest. But I don't see it. You look at the first half of their schedule, and they haven't come within 10 points of a win (in fact, one of the highlights had to be covering the 28-point spread vs. the Broncos). Then, you look at the second half of their schedule, and well, I don't see a victory. I mean, there are possibilities: the Jaguars play the Titans twice, the Cardinals and the death-spiraling Texans. And maybe if the Colts have locked in a first-round bye, they could play their scrubs vs. Jacksonville in the season finale. But the Jaguars are so subpar right now, the only team they'd have a chance to beat is the Buccaneers. And Tampa Bay isn't on the schedule.

8. The Buccaneers will win a game (or two): It'd be awfully interesting (and by interesting, I mean the "I know something terrible is about to happen, but I can't take my eyes off the TV" kind of interesting) to see what would happen if Tampa Bay faced off against Jacksonville. Unfortunately, the NFL gods have not deemed us fit to see the mighty display of power that this kind of matchup would bring. So, we only have the second-half of the Buccaneers schedule to determine if they can grab at least one win this season. They've got the Falcons at home, they've got the Bills at home and they're at St. Louis. If quarterback Mike Glennon can get hot and the defense -- which does, by the way, have some talent -- can clamp down, I could see the Buccaneers winning any of those contests. But man, how awesome would it be to have two 0-16 teams?

7. The Chiefs will lose a game (or two): Yep, Kansas City is 8-0, and the season has been magical for the Chiefs. But the combined record of their opponents' record is 20-41, and they haven't faced a single team with a winning record. After the Bills this week and nex week's bye, they'll have to face the 7-1 Broncos, the 4-3 Chargers and the 7-1 Broncos. My guess is they'll lose at least two.

6. No college coaches will be hired as NFL head coaches in 2014: It hasn't worked for the Buccaneers and Greg Schiano. It hasn't worked so far for the Eagles and Chip Kelly. Even though there might be four or five NFL openings after the season, I don't think a franchise will hire a high-priced, well-recognized college coach. With the exception of a few (Pete Carroll in Seattle and Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco being two), the college-coach-to-NFL-coach route hasn't worked, and though it might eventually for Kelly in Philadelphia, I think NFL owners and general managers might slow this trend for a bit (unless they feel like Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin is worth the risk). Instead, we might see retreads like Jon Gruden and Lovie Smith get another shot at a head coaching job.

5. Tom Brady's worst season ever will continue as his worst season ever: Despite what Ben Roethlisberger claims to think or what CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco writes, the Patriots quarterback won't recover fully this season. I'm not ready to write that Brady's skills are in decline -- we'd need a much-larger sample size to determine that -- but on this team, in this year, Brady will struggle. Too many young receivers. Too many injuries to Danny Amendola. Too little Wes Welker. Maybe Brady's more injured than he's let on. Look at his career stats, for gosh sakes, and compare them to 2013.

YearAgeGGSQBrecCmpAttCmp%YdsTDIntY/AY/CY/GRateSk
2001*2415011-3-026441363.9284318126.910.8189.586.541
20022516169-7-037360162.1376428146.310.1235.385.731
200326161614-2-031752760.2362023126.911.4226.385.932
2004*27161614-2-028847460.8369228147.812.8230.892.626
2005*28161610-6-033453063.0411026147.812.3256.992.326
200629161612-4-031951661.8352924126.811.1220.687.926
2007*+30161616-0-039857868.948065088.312.1300.4117.221
200831111-0-071163.676006.910.976.083.90
2009*32161610-6-037156565.7439828137.811.9274.996.216
2010*+33161614-2-032449265.939003647.912.0243.8111.025
2011*34161613-3-040161165.6523539128.613.1327.2105.632
2012*35161612-4-040163763.048273487.612.0301.798.727
201336886-2-017130755.71824965.910.7228.074.923

At this point in the year, Brady is an average NFL quarterback (even though the Patriots still are winning), and according to the Football Outsiders metrics, Brady is ranked 17th out of 39 quarterbacks. That might change in 2014, but in 2013, an average quarterback he will be.

4. Peyton Manning won't throw for 6,000 yards, but he will break the league record: In this, perhaps his best season ever, Manning has recorded 2,919 passing yards. Multiply that by two, and you get 5,838 yards. The NFL record was set by Drew Brees in 2011 with 5,476. Manning would have to average 319.8 yards per game to break Brees' record, and I think he'll manage that. In order to get to 6,000, he'd have to average 385.1 per contest. That probably will be a bit much.

3. Of the five coaches in only the second year of their respective tenures, only one will be fired: His name is Greg Schiano. The other ones in trouble, Oakland's Dennis Allen and Miami's Joe Philbin -- both of whom seemingly have been on the hot seat in recent times -- will survive to coach another year. There is no worry, of course, about Indianapolis' Chuck Pagano or St. Louis' Jeff Fisher losing their jobs.

2. Rex Ryan won't be Jets coach next year: One of my favorite storylines of the year (hell, one of my favorite storylines every year) is the state of Rex Ryan and his Jets. Most of us believed New York would be horrendous this season, making general manager John Idzik's decision to rid himself of Ryan an easy one. But the Jets have pulled off some impressive victories, including an overtime win vs. New England. Yet, the team has some horrendous losses, and it won't be easy for the Jets to maintain a .500 record. So, I think Idzik will, in his own mind, have ample reason to fire Ryan and bring in his own coach. Which, for Ryan, would be unfortunate, because this season thus far, he's pulled off one of his best coaching performances.

1. The Broncos will win the Super Bowl: No matter how unreal Denver's offense played in the first six games of the season, you knew they eventually would fall back a little. But Von Miller, suspended for the first six games of the season, gives the defense another big-time player, and the weapons Peyton Manning utitlizes in the receiving corps might be the best unit in the league. Yes, I haven't been accurate with this particular second-half prediction (I had the Packers winning the Super Bowl in 2011, and I picked the Texans last season), but this year I'm nearly for certain that Denver will finish the season touting the Lombardi Trophy.

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